Tag Archives: publish


Okay, I admit, I am a Twitter stalker. Some people make it easy. They use Twitter as a method to voice what they are feeling about everything from the weather to really important stuff… like editors reading submissions.

A few days ago, the editor that has had my manuscript for quite a while tweeted:

“Catching up on subs. Really like the voice and story in the YA scifi I’m reading, It’s from March. I’m so far behind.”

I tensed. My sub is a YA Sci Fi.  And I submitted in March.  I’d be lying if I did not admit my head went ka-blooey!

A few hours later an email popped up from the same editor.

Nothing definite, just a note to say she was reading AND ENJOYING my manuscript.


Okay, deep breath. That’s good. Really good. Fingernails are now officially non-existent. Let’s hope she doesn’t have an explosion phobia!

At one o’clock in the morning the next day she tweeted:

“Stayed up late to finish a manuscript I will offer on tomorrow. Really love this story.”

Now, I’m really glad I was fast asleep at one o’clock in the morning, because there would have been no sleeping that night for me if I had read this when she tweeted it.

PKO_0001147The next morning I woke to an email sent just after that Tweet. She’d stayed up late reading because she couldn’t put it down.


Now let me tell you. Spam filters can be evil. E.V.I.L. because after almost a whole day, thank goodness, she poked me to make sure I got the contract offer.

“Umm, no.”

Resend is a wonderful thing.

I spent the next half hour reading and re-reading everything she had to say about my book.  I mean, you have dreams about people going on and on about how great your work is, but you never really expect it to happen. Especially from an editor with such a great reputation in the business. I was numb. Completely numb.

Wow. Just Wow

An editor at my target publisher loves my story just as much as I do. She loves my quirky voice, and the themes blew her away. (Literally, in some cases).


Now on to the nitty gritty. I hope I will have exciting news to share with everyone really soon.


Rejection. Sometimes coming to grips is harder than others.

Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of rejections. Usually form rejections. I brushed myself off and moved on. But none of them stung as badly as this one.

83 days— twenty three days over their posted “get back to you” deadline, all leading to a form rejection.


Wow. I was speechless. Took me a while to get over it. I mean, I understand that publishers are busy, but when they have had the manuscript so long that they probably read the whole thing, and maybe even had several people read it, and then getting a form rejection?????


I’d just love to know— was it good enough? Did they have two alien novels on their desk that were great, and someone flipped a coin? Do they have an explosion phobia? Do they not like the color purple? What was it?

It took me a full day to get over this. Once I did, I dusted myself off and started reading my novel from page one.

Picking myself up, and getting back to it.

You know what?  I was amazed. After not reading my novel for several months, I found myself instantly engrossed, and stunned when I realized “Hey, I actually wrote this.”

I know why the publisher had it so long, now.

It’s good. Damn good.

I was probably rejected for one of those silly reasons you read about… like they already signed a sci-fi this month, or someone spilling their coffee or something.

My novel just needs to find the right person. Someone who loves the idea as much as I do.

I’m fine. I’ll get there. Patience has never been my strong suit. In the immortal words of Yoda “You must learn patience.”

There is still one more publisher on my “wish list” reading my baby. Maybe they are “the one”.

So I sit back, relax, and hunker down into my new novel.

This sucker ain’t gonna get written on its own.



Unexpected High Points While You’re Waiting on a Submission

The torment of waiting can have its high points

The clock is ticking on a manuscript I submitted now 51 days ago. Within another week (hopefully) I will hear something. It’s good they have it a long time, right? If they hated the first few pages, they would have stopped reading and rejected it by now. Right?

Right? Right? Right?

But what if they are just behind? What if the editor has been out sick, and papers have piled up? What if she gets back from a vacation or something and then just rejects everyone just to get current again!?????


It can totally get to you. I swear.

Anyway, I got a bright little flicker of hope today.

In response to an earlier query, I got a request for full from another publisher I’ve targeted for their awesomeness. For non-writerly-types, that means they have asked to read the entire manuscript.


It feels good, having my completed manuscript in the hands of two publishing houses that I have had my eye on for a while. But even with a few successes under my belt, I still bite off my nails.

Publishing is so subjective.

Woman Erg PitchforkThey could take a manuscript just because their boss yelled at them and said “More aliens!”

Likewise, they can reject a fantastic manuscript because they spilled their coffee, missed the bus, or their boss just yelled at them: “We have enough aliens!”

It can leave you pulling your hair out. I swear it can.


So now I am at Day 51 with one publisher, and Day One with another publisher.

And the waiting goes on.

Anyone have any antacid? I ran out a week ago.


Just how good is the first line of your manuscript?

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a submissions editor (you never know who you’ll run into at a coffee shop) and we had a discussion about first lines of a book, and how important they are.

I knew already how important it was to hook a reader quickly, but Mike told me that he actually knows by reading the FIRST LINE if he is going t request a full or not when he reads through submissions.


Now Available from Jennifer M. EatonThat’s not much time to make a first impression, is it?

That’s why I jumped at the chance to post ONLY MY FIRST LINE for “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” over at The Ladies Cave website today.


Hop on over.  This line obviously grabbed my editor’s attention.  Tell me what you think!

But while you still here…

What’s your first line?

Do you think it has the goods to grab a reader/editor in once sentence?


Stop feeling! And don’t “think” either while you are at it — Rule #24 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #24

24: Cut out filtering devices, wherever possible. ‘He felt’, ‘he thought’, ‘he observed’ are all filters. They distance the reader from the character.

Sometimes I consider typing this out and saving it somewhere so I can paste it into manuscripts that I beta read.  This is one I see time and time again.  This is part of show don’t tell, and it is the hardest for new and some seasoned authors to understand… but it is the difference between a good novel, and a great one.

Which sentence packs more punch?

He felt sad.


Tears streamed down his cheeks.


He saw the train go by.


The wind stung his cheek as the engine throttled along the tracks.

It’s not a hard choice to pick the better sentence, is it?

Search for felt, saw, looked, was, thought… and words like that… and replace them with active sentences.  The result will astound you.


Writers: Don’t worry about the Statistics

I came across this article that really hit home.

Why statistics discourage prospective writers

We all hear the statistics.  1 in 500… 1 in 5000… 100,000 novels are being queried right now.  They are all scary.  Many people are daunted by this.

This article points out something that I hadn’t thought of.  Think it over.  All of us have at least one friend who is querying thinking there novel is great, and they are getting rejected.  I talked to someone the other day doing this and the only other person whose read her novel is HER HUSBAND.  Really?  What are you thinking?

Now, if all of you count up their one or two friends who refuse to get beta readers, and are SURE they are geniuses without getting a lick of feedback… are you counting them up? Are you getting a mental picture?  Get my meaning?

This is what I am getting at.  So what if you and 499 other people query at the same time.  If 300 of these are sub-standard, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

If 50 of the remaining 100 had bad queries, or boring plots, your chances just increased, didn’t they?

What you have to ask is this… Are you destined for the slush pile, or are you one of then ten that the agent or publisher is actually going to read?

Make your choice now, and work hard to get yourself out of the slush pile, and onto that agent’s desk.

When to say “Enough is enough” – Coming to the end of your query rope

As many of you know, I have been in what I’ve called “Query Hell” for over a month now.   One month and eleven days, to be exact.

It hit me a few days ago.  I finished the first draft of Fire in the Woods in 40 writing days. It was 40,000 words at the time. (After three months of editing and beta reading, it is nearly 68,000 words)

That means that it took me the same amount of time to write 40,000 words as it took me to write this 249-word query (mainly, the 155-word blurb inside it)

How crazy is that?

A few days ago, I said. “Enough”.

This is my problem — I know I am not good at queries, so I had requested a lot of help.  Seriously – I think people were cringing. (With smiles on their faces, I hoped)

But the problem was… I was getting SO MUCH feedback, with contradicting opinions, that I was getting NOWHERE.

A few weeks ago, I complained about this process on Facebook, and an acquisitions editor at a small publishing house commented “Just write the back cover copy of the book.  That’s all we want to see”

Well, yeah, I know that.  That’s what I was trying to write… but people kept saying I needed more.  A little more voice here, a little more danger there.  It was getting TOO LONG.

A few days ago I sat down, cleared my head… thought about all the suggestions people have made… and I just wrote the dern thing.

Funny, the best parts of all their suggestions just flew out of my fingers… and I sat there and stared at it.


I mean, I think Wow… but I’d thought Wow before… so I (being the glutton for punishment that I am) send it to three people (leaving out the person who always found flaws)

I got two enthusiastic thumbs up, and a slight modification.

I made the modification (which fixed something I was uncomfortable with anyway) and asked for one last check – including the most critical person this time. (Who I love by the way-if you are reading this)

Triple thumbs up.  And all around “I’d ask for this in a heartbeat”


You can’t believe the sigh of relief.  Part of me feels like I have wasted a month and a half.  I could be nearly done my new novel, but part of me realizes I have made an important first step to getting where I want to go.

The truth is, Fire in the Woods is too important to me to be flippant with the query.  I’m going to be reaching higher than I have before.  I need to take my bumps and bruises just like anyone else.

So… if you are writing your query, or your synopsis… and feeling the pain… I sympathize.  But believe that you can get to the finish line.  Believe me, if I can write a decent query, anyone can.

When you are lucky enough to have choices. Stuff to thing about

When searching for a publisher, many authors target who they want, but settle for who will publish them.  Right?  This week, I found myself in the thrilling and cushy position of having a choice after being offered multiple contracts for Paper Wishes.

What’s Paper Wishes?  Ha!  I’m glad you asked!  Paper Wishes is the re-envisioning of Jack and Jill Volume One.

As most of you know, Still Moments Publishing was purchased by another publishing house on March 15, and Jack and Jill was not one of the titles automatically shifted under their fold.

This was not a huge surprise to me, as Jack and Jill was not traditional Romance.  The book really was a better fit for Christian Romance, so the minute I got my rights back, I began querying Christian Publishers.

Now – should this happen to anyone else, be prepared because the greater percentage of publishers out there (at least in Christian) DO NOT WANT previously published work.  This surprised me at first.  I had the nicest discussion with a really big house that liked my work, but had to decline because it had been published too recently.

But they were really a long shot anyway… and not so much on my radar.  I was mainly focused in on one publisher that I contacted the day Still Moments made the announcement.  I spoke with this publisher, explained my predicament, and we chatted about the publishing business in general for a while before I had even sent them my work.  We were very much on the same page, so I bit my nails as I sent them my submission, and to a few other houses as well.

Less than a week later, I had two contract offers, and a third arrived last night. I have the luxury of matching up what each publisher has to offer, and also weighing the changes each publisher wants. (Yes, there will be changes)

Requested Changes:

1.        Two of them want the cursing removed – and for anyone who has read my work, I really don’t curse.  But what I WILL have to remove is dernit, darn, gosh, Hell, heck … anything even remotely looking like an explicative.

2.       I will need to tone down the make-out scene to bring it more within the boundaries of Christian novels.

3.       One of the publishers wants me to change it from First Person to Third Person.

So I am weighing the required changes alongside royalties, distribution, foreign rights, cover design, print rights and overall package offered.

It’s wonderful place to be, and I hope to be making an announcement shortly.


Write a Story With Me #32 – Janelle’s Choice with Shannon Christensen

Last week the baby finally arrived, but it looks like Mommy is in big trouble!  Will she be okay?  Let’s find out!

Take it away Shannon!

32- Shannon Christensen

Janelle hesitated.

If she followed Morana’s instructions to get help, Natalia might live and the boy might grow up healthy, wealthy, and destructive. This baby could destroy them all – fairies and humans, regardless of Janelle’s help.

She considered this. The boy could turn out to be like Marci, and could be helpful to Janelle’s people. Then again, maybe not. If he were more like Bethany, then all the risks and sacrifices made by Marci, by Sian, by Janosc, by herself and so many others would be futile.

She did not have to help. She should not have helped earlier by bringing Morana. Certainly, the humans would not have helped a fairy mother. She could simply leave Natalia and the boy in Morana’s care and let luck or fate have her way.

Natalia moaned again and Morana pleaded.

Janelle watched.
As a mother, Janelle sympathized with the compulsion to care for an infant. As Marci’s friend, Janelle sympathized with the potential loss of a family member. As the new queen of the fairies, however, she understood that her own feelings were nothing compared to her peoples’ needs. She had accepted this when she ate the leaf. She had not expected to have to act so quickly on this new prioritization.

Janelle sighed. She would do what was best for the many, and not only the few.


“But, you must!”

“No. I must not.” Janelle turned and flew away from the house for the last time.

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Part One – Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Two – J. Keller Ford

Part Three – Susan Roebuck

Part Four – Elin Gregory

Part Five – Eileen Snyder

Part Six – Mikaela Wire

Part Seven — Vanessa Chapman

Part Eight — Ravena Guron

Part Nine – Vikki Thompson

Part Ten — Susan Rocan mywithershins

Part Eleven — Kate Johnston  AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twelve — Julie Catherine

Part Thirteen — Kai Damian

Part Fourteen — Richard Leonard

Part Fifteen — Sharon Manship

Part Sixteen – Shannon Blue Christensen

Part Seventeen — Bryn Jones

Part Eighteen — Jennifer M. Eaton

Part Nineteen — Shannon Burton

Part Twenty — J.Keller Ford

Part Twenty-One — Susan Roebuck

Part Twenty-Two — Elin Gregory

Part Twenty-Three — Aparnauteur

Part Twenty-Four — Vanessa Chapman

Part Twenty-Five — Ravena Guron

Part Twenty Six — Susan Rocan

Part Twenty Seven — Kate Johnson AKA 4AMWriter

Part Twenty Eight – Julie Catherine

Part Twenty Nine — Kai Damian

Part Thirty — Richard Leonard

Part Thirty-One — Sharon Manship

Part Thirty-Two — Shannon Christensen

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Danielle Ackley McPhail — TAG!  You are “It”

Give that Publisher What They Want DERNIT: The Basics #2 – Identifiers

We interrupt this post to announce that USA Today is featuring my anthology “For the Love of Christmas” in a blurb in their “Life” Section.  Can I hear an “Oh Yeah!” Click here to see it!

Eh-hem — now back to our regularly scheduled program.

I am uber stoker to be able to dig into the wild and crazy brain of someone who is out there doing this crazy publishing stuff professionally. When you read this, you’re gonna want to slap yourself silly, because this is hearing it right from someone who does this for a living. For the next few weeks, we will be delving into the slush pile with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Here we go…

The Writer’s Toolbox: Give ’Em What They Want! Why Formatting Is Important By Danielle Ackley-McPhail

(Originally published in Allegory Magazine ©2011)


So far, we’ve discussed that nothing will help your manuscript if the editor in question is not even willing to read it.

Last week, we discussed remembering your contact information.

This week, we’re going to dig through the second basics to get your foot in the door… How to identify yourself, and your manuscript.

The Basics #2

Identifiers. To simplify I’m grouping several things under this heading, so bear with me.

Title – you would be amazed how many people neglect to put titles on their manuscripts (coincidentally enough, more than a few of them are the ones who forgot contact information as well).

Name – your pen name or your legal name, whichever one you write under. Editors like to know whose work they are reading and what should appear on a published work (should you be fortunate enough to make a sale.) The problem is that if the contact information is missing and there is no title or author name, the publisher has absolutely no way of cross-referencing to try and determine what story goes with which submission email (assuming they will even try).

Page Numbers – now you might be thinking “But manuscripts are electronic, how can the pages get out of order?” Well first, you can’t assume that whoever receives the manuscript won’t prefer to review a hardcopy. Second, even if they are reviewing something electronically it is easier for them to make notes or track back if there are page numbers to reference.

Running Heads – This is the space at the top of the page (starting with page 2) where you put the story/book title, the page number, and your legal last name. This is so no pages go missing and the editor knows what they are reading.

Author Bio – Optional, but a good thing to include, particularly if you have a few sales under your belt, but only if they are professional sales of note, not a piece of flash fiction you sold to a fanzine. What this tells the editor is that you are already established.

Besides the more practical reasons for not omitting any of the above information, consider that it is just plain sloppy and unprofessional. This isn’t a matter of wanting to impress the editor, it is showing them that you are not an amateur without a clue. Professionalism will do much to smooth over any other short fallings you have, in the editor’s eye.

Next week we’ll talk about FORMAT

Be there or be square, or, ummm… rejected?

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include four urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale. She is also the author of a single-author collection of science fiction stories called A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers guide, The Literary Handyman and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In An Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections, including Rum and Runestones, Dark Furies, Breach the Hull, So It Begins, By Other Means, No Man’s Land, Space Pirates, Space Horrors, Barbarians at the Jumpgate, and Mermaid 13.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

Danielle lives somewhere in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, badassfaeries, darkquestbooks, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DAckley-McPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, http://www.literaryhandyman.com, or www.badassfaeries.com.

Website and/or blog www.sidhenadaire.com, http://lit_handyman.livejournal.com, http://damcphail.livejournal.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/DMcPhail

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/danielle.ackleymcphail

Amazon author page   http://www.amazon.com/Danielle-Ackley-McPhail/e/B002GZVZPQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1331314265&sr=8-1

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/989939.Danielle_Ackley_McPhail



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